To investigate the long-term effects of cholinesterase inhibitor (ChEI) therapy and the influence of sociodemographic and clinical factors on the use of community-based home help services (HHS) by patients with Alzheimer’s disease (AD).
This 3-year, prospective, multicenter study included 880 AD patients treated with donepezil, rivastigmine, or galantamine in a routine clinical setting. At baseline and every 6 months, the patients were assessed with several rating scales, including the Mini-Mental State Examination, Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADL), and Physical Self-Maintenance Scale. Doses of ChEI and amounts of HHS per week were recorded. Cox regression models were used to predict the time to HHS, and multiple linear regression was used to predict the volume of HHS used.
During the study, 332 patients (38%) used HHS. Factors that both postponed HHS use and predicted lower amounts of HHS were higher doses of ChEIs, better IADL ability, and living with family. Men, younger individuals, and those with a slower IADL decline showed a longer time to HHS, whereas female sex, a lower cognitive status, or more medications at baseline predicted fewer hours of HHS.
Higher doses of ChEI might reduce the use of HHS, possibly reducing the costs of community-based care. Female spouses provide more informal care than do male spouses, so the likelihood of using HHS is greater among women with AD. The “silent group” of more cognitively impaired and frail elderly AD patients receives less HHS, which might precipitate institutionalization.